Tuesday, February 21, 2017

My son came for a visit...

 Yesterday, my son, his wife and I cruised out to Fort Sumter, a reminder of the Civil War that then divided our country.

It had been many years since I had taken the tour boat out there at the mouth of the harbor in Charleston.

This was toward the end of a 5-day visit my son Chris and his wife Stephanie had made.

They live near San Diego and this was Steph's first time here in the south.

She was eager to see the national monument.

 One feature I remembered was the NPS staff asking
 the visiting tour people
 to assist in the lowering
of the HUGE American flag.

She explained we needed to work together to fold it many, many times, into the familiar triangle shape.

The uniformed National Park ranger warned us to be careful and hold it tight or we'd have to stop and start all over again.

It was a moving patriotic moment, involving many ethnicities, men, women, and children in a spirited joint effort.

I liked the joyful "team" feeling as we all worked together for a common cause.

It all turned out well. 

Then,  we all headed toward the dock and the boat that would carry us back to shore.

It was a perfect way to end the day.

Ours was the last tour and staff closed down the museum and other parts of the fort, and made it secure for the night.

They came aboard the tour boat and rode with us back to the mainland.

I had noticed signage on board that offered cold sodas, bottled water, and snacks available on the way over.

On the return trip across the harbor, beer also now was offered for sale.

Respect for the monument. I liked that.

(Click on the photos and links for details.)

If it's been a while, consider taking the cruise out there on a sunny afternoon.

Thanks for tagging along on a vacation day with my family.

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Thursday, February 09, 2017

How about a HURRAH for Hanahan city workers!

So, the GOOD news is the City of Hanahan dislikes trash piling up on its streets.

The BAD news is the rundown and neglected house next door to me has just been sold and all of the trash, broken furniture, saggy couches and rubbish was hauled out and dumped curbside.

There was so much discarded debris
that it overlapped into my front yard.

The new owner apologized and tried to shift it all back in front of his property but I still had stacked grimy mattresses and broken furniture out front.

This all happened on a Sunday afternoon.

The regular trash pickup day for stuff like this is Thursday but I was doubtful the truck would even slow down when it saw this smelly heap!

Not that I would blame them.

For the next few days, people would stop, pick through the rubbish and even take away some items.

Garbage pickup in my neighborhood is Tuesday and I was hopeful they would see this as garbage but, no, the truck continued on its rounds, lifting garbage cans and emptying them.

My neighbor's woeful trash dump remained where it was.

I had seen city trucks come by on Thursdays to pick up old tv sets and other "strange" discards.
Only a few more days for refuse relief. Sigh.

But, Wednesday morning - normal trash pickup day,  I heard the truck stop out front.

Could it be?

Yes! I came out with my camera to capture the moldy moment.

The crew even stopped to wave when I shouted a heartfelt Thank You!

(I think the lady-in-red was another grateful neighbor who was pleased to see the remains no longer was remaining.)

Anthony, in the red cap, has been a city employee for 11 years and said they really appreciate when a citizen takes the time to thank them for their daily/weekly chores.

As they hefted a sad-looking couch into the powerful maw of the truck, it took only two bites to crunch it to kindling

I shouted, "Did you check the couch for loose change?"

We all had a laugh as they crammed more items into the gaping rear of the hungry truck.

Actually, they had picked up and tossed the mounds of smaller piles a few minutes earlier and shouted they'd be right back for the bigger items.

And the mattresses were the last to go.

They tidied up the area and, with a wave, turned the corner, heading for the next house to be relieved of it tossed items.

I make a point to have money in envelopes ready to hand to each member of the trash crew around Christmas time.

Every year. 

 My dad often would place a cold 6-pack of Pepsi on top of stacks of his discarded wood scraps, especially on hot, humid days. 

He'd wait until he heard the rumble of the approaching truck to take out his cold thank you. 

Maybe they remembered him.

(Click on the photos for more details.) Thanks for stopping by.

My street is looking good again - much neater. I look forward to watching the progress as the formerly decrepit house next door starts to take shape.

Happy in the 'hood.

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Thursday, February 02, 2017

The Mind Is A Wonderful Thing To Change....

As already related, I sat down with Realtors to start steps to move from my long-time, 2-story home, into something smaller and all on one level.

It's called "downsizing" and often happens as one gets older and is living alone.

They researched and said my house would probably sell for $175,000 and I should net about$155,000.

So I started boxing up a lot of clutter that had accumulated during almost 20 years of living here.

Strong young men were hired to lug the many boxes downstairs for storage under the original 800 sf house.

My folks moved from the peninsula in 1962 and immediately my dad added a 50' x 20' workshop downstairs. That was this carpenter/cabinet maker's money-maker.

The Realtor sent over their "staging" lady who would advise me on what to remove or change so they could take photographs to show my place in the best possible manner.

She liked what I had done around my computer desk by removing and storing things but said the cat's 6-foot tall "Condo" climbing and scratching post had to go.

Cats don't deign to explain WHY they do things we don't understand but she was clearly miffed with its removal.

That might have been my first clue about the wisdom of selling this large house that my dad had bought and expanded.

Oh, sure, by removed things, I now showed a lot of open counter space in the oversized kitchen.

I don't "cook" very much - more of a defrost and microwave kinda chef - so that appliance stayed as did my toaster oven.

The Keurig coffee-maker remained because that is where every day begins.

With a large variety of coffee cups, which now were stored out of sight in cupboards.

The Realtor who was going to advise me when I became a "Buyer" (after selling my house) suggested we go take a look at an 1130 sf duplex in nearby Tanner Plantation.

It was a single story and in matchless condition, with a modern array of fashionable colors.

The living room even had a cathedral ceiling.

But, it did not have a garage nor a screened patio out back.

And, as I walked around inside I realized the total floor plan was about the size of my dad's downstairs workshop.

I would leave behind most all of the upstairs 2,000 sf of house I now have.

Three spacious bedrooms, 2 baths (one with a giant shower with 6 heads and tankless water heaters for endless hot water), two living rooms, a huge 21' x 16' kitchen, a large computer room and an even larger tv media room, a carport and a 35' x 10' wooden deck across the back with ceiling fans over the seating areas. YIKES.

And, I liked the new minimalist look of the house that I had worked hard to de-clutter.

So I alerted the Realtors I had had a change of heart. I would stay in The House That Dad Built and cope with stairs if and when my legs started to rebel.

I began the very selective process of bringing back upstairs items I now have stored downstairs.

Not cluttered and stacked haphazardly, but neat and organized.

Before things had slowly evolved, had piled up and had become messy. This was looking at my home with new eyes.

I plan to stay here a long, long time.

A few select framed photos are back up on the walls and the cat is happy to see her Condo is back where it belongs.

When I heard the Realtor's "stager" mention my bedroom was large enough to accommodate a king-size bed, I moved my queen across the room.

It too looks new to me.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

This has been a moving experience for me...without the hassle of actually moving.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

But, all the boxes are empty??

When I came out of the liquor store at Sam's Club, my cart was filled with these sturdy whiskey boxes.

No particular brand preference.

A guy in the parking lot took a look and shouted
"Wow! Have a nice weekend!" 

It has been almost two decades since I last moved but I remembered liquor stores have perfect, large size boxes for packing up your stuff.

George Carlin had defined everything we own as "our stuff."

I have been in my house in Hanahan for 18 years and had discarded all the packing materials years and years ago.

Didn't think I would be moving ever again but then my legs started "hurting" and I realized a two-story house with lots of stairs, probably was not a good long-term idea.

 Evan Dua*, Listing Specialist with the Realtor I chose, told me the first step to showing my home to prospective buyers was to take down my framed photos, diplomas, a Missouri Senate proclamation and all other personal items.

Clear off all the small photos and items sitting on top of flat surfaces

"Let the buyer see open space that he or she will fill," Evan said.

So, I started filling the boxes I brought home. Dang, I have a lot of stuff after living here so long!

I still have the oval-framed photos of my dad, his brother, and his parents hanging on the wall of my spacious master bedroom.

They'll be wrapped in bubble wrap and go into new boxes I have collected.

The bathroom shelves have been emptied and boxed, along with the linen closet in the second bathroom.

It DOES give the familiar home a "new, clean look." Thanks, Evan!

The kitchen is very large and I've just begun clearing it out.

Amazing what accumulates on shelves and other flat surfaces over the years. The box of Scrabble on a shelf had NOT been opened the whole time I've lived here.

The cat food and water bottle will be packed last. Oh yeah, and the two litter boxes in the smaller living room will be moved out of sight into the small spare bedroom.

You start with "I want to sell this house and downsize to a single story one nearby," and then all the steps begin that you have to take to get to the point of being a "Buyer", actually looking at what might be my potential new home.

The sequence, of course, has to be selling my present home at a good price so I can pay for my new, smaller place in full.

No new debt.

I mentioned that the kitchen is large. Very large.

I measured and it's 21' long x 16' wide.

It's standard, I was told, to leave built-in appliances (stove and dishwasher) when you sell a house, but I believe I'll also leave the front-loading washer and the dryer.

Maybe even the side-by-side refrigerator. No sure about that yet.

The Realtors really smiled when we went downstair to look at my dad's former woodworking space. His shop.

Oh yeah, as they say, it's HUGE.

And, if the buyer is into working with wood, one wall of the shop has a 20-foot long x 30" workbench.

And, yes there is a Craftsman Model 100 radial saw built-in. My dad usually shopped Sears.

In 1962, my folks moved into an 800 SqFt house and the first thing he did was expand the house 20 feet x 50 feet to build his shop. Duh, that's how he made his money.

He later expanded the upstairs house to be over his shop and took off a small screen porch and replaced it with the impressive kitchen.

Keep in mind, he was doing all of this by himself.

His skill was fantastic and others who have seen the house said he built it 3x what code required.

When I added a deck out back, the man who was removing the existing landing and stairs my dad had built said it would take several more days.

He added, if it called for 5 or 6 nails, my dad used 20, glued the pieces together and finished by counter-sinking screws.
Yes, sturdy and well-built.

I am thankful mom would wander out back and snap some progress shots with her Kodak Brownie.

This particular photo was taken AFTER dad had clambered up to the original roof peak and extended it at the perfect angle over the 2-story addition.

The Realtor asked me to write a brief history of the house after I mentioned that my dad had built and expanded it in the 1960s.

I figured going back through all of that history deserved to become a posting on my blog.

So, now it is.

My main contribution to the "The House That Dad Built," was when I followed his lead and expanded my standard tub shower.

I had people take out a non-load bearing wall and install a large custom shower with six (6) shower heads.

Yep, six heads, no waiting.

Of course, we then had to discuss how to heat enough water flowing through each head at 2.5 gallons a minute.

A standard40-gallonn water heater would start turning cold in about 3 minutes.

The counterman at the plumbing supply store suggested I get two Rinnai Gas tankless heaters, which I did because we had gas coming to the house so why face a threat of running out of hot water?

The Realtors liked this feature too!

 Dad never did add a garage.

Finally, I got tired of parking under trees that continually dropped sap and having birds add their poop to the mess atop my car.

Found a nearby company that sold and erected just what I needed - a sturdy and affordable carport.

Delivered by two men in a truck, they assembled all the pieces, anchored it securely and walked across the roof to finish details.

They were done in an hour and drove off to deliver another one.

I was pretty sure the roof - with spinning ventilators strung along the ridge - dated back to the 60s.

Had several people come and estimate replacing it.

My pick was the owner of the company in Summerville who came himself, did all the measuring,  and assured me ANY repairs needed would be included.

He said he would never cover a roof unless it was sturdy and in great shape.

I am sure the Realtors will note it was done in late 2010 with a 30-year warranty.

Well, I was asked for a brief history of the house and this is it. "Brief" is not my main trait. Haha.

(Click on the photos and links for more details) Going over all these details reminded me I am really going to miss this house.

I hope for a buyer who will appreciate the skill, love, and labor that went into building it.

*If you want to take a tour, I am sure Evan Dua will make that possible. Just call him or drop him an email.

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Sunday, January 01, 2017

A brief FLORIDA trip...

 I lived in Tallahassee for 10 years and often thought about re-visiting.

I left there in 1993 to come home to Charleston after my last divorce.

23 years have passed without a Florida return trip.

Heather, my younger daughter, called and asked if I wanted to come for a visit.

The time frame would be during the week between holidays so I started thinking about Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Christmas/New Year air travel.

She laughed and said she was much closer - house sitting for a friend who was taking her family for a vacation to Italy and Paris.

Duh, yes, the house is in Tallahassee so I stopped checking airfares to Tulsa and contacted Thrifty about renting a car for December 26 - 29.

I had moved to Tallahassee in the 80s when I had been offered a position with the Florida Division of Tourism.

It was a move to the Majors Leagues after having been Director of Tourism for the state of Missouri for four years.

It meant working WITH Disney instead of competing against that major magic tourism mecca.

And the state tourism budget was $50 million. Yikes!!

Driving down there also would give me time spent with my youngest grandson - Aiden - who I had not seen since I was in Tulsa and he was two.

Now he is 5-years old. What a difference!

Well-spoken, smart as heck (home schooled) and quite a dynamic youngster.

He was shy at first - beards do that - but quickly was hugging his Pop-Pop.

It also had been three years since I had seen my daughter.

She was still recovering from the sudden death of her mother in the home she, her husband, and the boy had shared in Sand Springs, an affluent suburb of Tulsa.

We toured Florida State University, where her mom Sandy had worked for 10 years before retiring.

As we drove around the campus, I wanted to see the FSU Bobby Bowden field at Doak Campbell Stadium.

I had been down on the field, taking photos of a football game there many, many years ago but the stadium did not look familiar at all.

"They tore that one down, Dad, and built this new one," Heather explained, as we got out to take pictures of several statues and monuments on the campus.

Did I mention the energy 5-year olds have? Whenever it was safe, he was told to run as fast as he could and burn 
off some of that pent-up need to run. 

The area around the stadium afforded ample opportunities
to turn him loose to run, his hair flying and his grin wide.

He would run fast and turn around and race back to us.

He was in his element, speeding in the walking areas, safely away from cars in the parking lots and roads.

They obviously had developed a routine.

At the statues and monuments, he was encouraged to run circles around them as I tried to capture his movement moments.

Eventually, he would "wind down" and snuggle hug his mom as he caught his breath.

Did I mention he was her "teacher's Pet?"

The familiar statue of a Seminole Warrior hefting his spear was impressive.

The plaque said the "no particular person was named, to represent the unconquerable spirit," but I recalled the name of the horse was Renegade."

THAT I happened to remember as I watched Bobby Bowden's teams over the years after my divorce.

The stadium looked brand new to me, with more bricks second only to the Great Wall of China.

Heather pointed out the area where her mom had worked for 10 years.

A very nice set of figures in football gear represented the spirit of "Sportsmanship."

A fallen player, still clutching the football but minus his helmet, is offered a hand up by the FSU tackler who also had picked up the opponent's helmet.

I had lived in the Capital during some of the best years under coach Bobby Bowden and was surprised his statue did not have "Saint" added to the marker.

The drive down from Charleston was about 6.5 hours and I was entertained by several audio books I had picked up at the library.

The librarian had reminded me to not leave them behind in Florida and to make sure no disk was left in the car.

That's a funny remark because the first two full-size cars I checked had had low mileage, Bluetooth technology, and satellite radio ....but no CD player slot.

Finally, they found me a Jeep Patriot that could play the disks and I headed down US 17 south to connect near Yemassee with I-95.

I had made several trips recently to Savannah so knew that leg of the journey quite well.

Had not ventured on to Jacksonville for years but GPS on my phone smoothly guided me around JAX and then  I-10 moved me across the panhandle to TLH.

One night we went to Osaka, a nice Japanese Hibachi restaurant and enjoyed the antics of our chef who flipped knives around as he prepared the food.

He "lit up the place" at the start of the meal to ohs and ahs.

I had calculated the timing by watching other tables and grills so I was able to catch the brief flash of flames.

Later, as the meal progressed and noodles were added to the plates. I observed Aiden demonstrating the "proper way to slurp them."

Looking around the table, I saw he was the only "expert" showing off his skills.

As usual with such meals, we packed up enough for another serving the next day.

Quite a change from my usual leftover breakfast treat of cold pepperoni pizza slices.

Even on his encore, the noodles were properly dangled and slurped between Aiden's lips.

The host house was equipped with a newer version of the Keurig coffee maker and a small array of real and decaf coffees.

Our morning routine was very familiar and comfortable.

I'll close now and return later with pictures of some of our adventures as I spent quality time with my daughter and her adorable son.

(Click on the photos and links for more details).

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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Bouncy, bouncy....

 VELOCITY usually means going fast. Very fast,

On Rivers Avenue, near the K-Mart at Otranto, it means a place to jump up and down.

And all around.

Falling safely while having a great time.

The neoprene trampoline mats add some bounce to a game of Dodge Ball. Some vertical moves!

It's also probably the largest Kingdom of Jumping Castles, gathered together in one place.

More than enough room to make you jump for joy!

However, before you get to take your first bounce or leap, you are required to stop at the Wonderful Waiver Machine.

Just as it sounds, you type in your name and address, your birth date and then check off a long list of things the establishment is NOT liable for. Sounds fair.

I came in and asked if I could take a few pictures on a slow weekday afternoon.

Heather, the General Manager, agreed because I showed her I planned to post a blog about this adventure site.

Then, she directed me to the PC with a touch screen and I started the process of making sure that if I injured myself, it was my own fault.

They are extremely safety conscious there and almost anything you can touch is well-padded.

But, we ARE talking mainly about curious and fearless youngsters with incredible stamina. Plenty of "officials" in colorful t-shirts to remind the players to follow the rules and to be careful.

Think of Velocity as a place with many, many "backyard trampolines" but, these beauties can bounce you higher and faster than you've ever experienced.

Forget Air Jordans to give you lift to the basketball hoop.

Slam dunk from above as you run, jump and vault high over the basket ...and drop it in.

I mention again, this was on a slow afternoon and not too many players.

Enough though that I could see the allure of having a spring in your step as you soar and land softly.

Driveway basketball that has been taken to new heights.

I plan to go back again - during a heavy play time period.

I want to see all the whirling and leaping action in this very large indoor playground.

It had been a Sofa Sleeper store (I had bought a couch there) and then was closed for many years.

Looks like a good use of a huge vacant space.

I saw some dads helping their children cross a tightrope over a chasm filled with blue and green foam "rocks."

Others just grabbed a "vine", gave a Tarzan yell and swung out and then let go.

Smiling, they clamored to the edge, got up and did it again.

A scary moment perhaps but without any real danger.

Growing up with two brothers, we often did some scary stuff but there was no soft foam safety net.

Let's just say some of the ER people in the 50s knew about the Boyd boys from Society Street.

It is a very large and spacious place to go to have fun.

Not sure if adults ever show up there for some serious cardio workouts. It would work a lot of muscles in a short time span.

Or if its mainly children hopping from one square to the next.

I know they don't ever get tired of doing this!

It's not all run and jump. I saw an excellent arcade games area.

Also, tables and chairs set aside for birthday and other group party activities.

And an array of sports drinks and sodas in vending machines.

Coming in I saw there are two handicap parking spaces so this place has an appeal to quite a wide audience. Maybe a good place for therapy?

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

A good rainy or cold day indoor activity center.

Well, Winter has just started.

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Friday, December 09, 2016

NOT a close shave....

 So now it's December and I still have my Movember fuzzy face from last month.

Looks like I tipped over  into a continuation of growing a beard.

Actually, now it really DOES look like I am doing this on purpose.

Not just the effects of a long, long weekend away from my razor.

Has been too cool to have been out camping, away from civilization.

The Lowcountry is rather too flat to think of myself as a Mountain Man.

Even a seasonal Man who adds small twinkling lights for the holiday season.

Well, this bearded fellow's in good company this time of year.

But Santa, the "jolly old elf" has not embraced the lighter aspect side of the holidays.

Often pictured drinkin' a Coca-Cola but - so far at least - no flashing beard lights.

Santa leaves that to the Rudolph, the red-nosed leader of the reindeer pack.

The distinctive red outfit is his main fashion statement.

And, well, his sleigh that flies all over the world.

On a 3rd Thursday in Summerville a while back, I did spot a gent who could give Santa's beard a run for the money.

I was on a Photo Walk with members of my Photography Group and spotted this guy sitting on a curb, listening  to some buskers playing music at the monthly event.

Just as I clicked the shutter, he turned my way. Oops.

In Street Photography you try to be "invisible" as you capture images but I could not tell where his eyes were looking, due to the dark sunglasses.

He didn't react and I quickly walked away.

Caught a good portrait of a man with quite a beard.

A local craft beer brewery has gotten into the bearded act with a descriptive name.

That reflects what could happen if a hairy-faced man drank one of their brews.

I now realize I need to keep a napkin handy when I'm drinking - or eating - anything that might leave a signature image.

An ice cream cone becomes a challenge.

Or a bowl of clam chowder if you are not fastidious.

These three men, tending bar at the Frothy Beard, all have facial hair.

Eager-to-please employees or three of the owners, I can't recall.

Well, there WAS beer involved.

So I might have forgotten to ask their names or neglected to write them down.

I was being handed a glass of their product so my attention had wandered.

Actually, I was tasting several to see which I would take away in my 64 ounces Growler.

Another long time beer brewer - Coast - in North Charleston on the old Navy base, has a delightfully-named beverage that links our city's history back to the pirate days.

It's called Blackbeerd, a dark Imperial Stout. Mmmm.

I would challenge any fiddle-player to drink a few and then try to keep his beard away from the strings and the bow.

Speaking of which, I am starting to learn things that happen as one's beard fills out and gets thicker

And longer.

I tend to touch it and groom it with my fingers. A lot.

Stopped in the Brew Cellar off Montague in Park Circle after I noticed they had added a "Beer Garten" out front.

Yep, the two owners John Judson and Ryan Hendrick, sported long-time beards.

I was still clean-shaven at that time but it must have lodged in my brain that beards can be cool.

I have quite a ways to go, of course, but I was pleased with the reception I received last week downtown when I spotted The Beard Shop.

Before I started growing mine, I probably walked right past the King Street store called The Art of Shaving.
It's one of the upscale shops in the Belmond Charleston Place Hotel.

The man who greeted me apologized that his beard was so short but he had just had it trimmed and "went a bit overboard."

Because mine is still growing in, I have not trimmed it yet but his whiskers looked good. Very symmetrical. Stop by and check it out.

A few days ago I was picked to be a background (extra) person in a movie filming down in Savannah. I had submitted my regular head shots when I applied to the casting people.

I  added the shot with my beard and a note saying I could shave it if needed.  The immediate response was "We want the beard."

More info AFTER the film is completed. They are very secretive at this point in production.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Thanks for stopping by as we await the Polar Express to plunge temps when it comes roaring down from Canada.

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